Lem Satterfield

Exclusive: Showtime’s Espinoza shares network’s vision for boxing

Stephen Espinoza on his general vision for boxing on Showtime:

“I think we as television producers are not doing a good job of televising our sport of boxing. Boxing, in my eyes, is the most exciting and enthralling live experience of any major sport. I would put it against any other sport — from the World Series, to the Super Bowl, to anything else.

“Yet when we televise it, we’re not doing a good job of conveying that excitement through to the viewer at home. So, what we, and, specifically, I want to do is to improve the viewer’s experience so that it more closely matches what the experience and the emotion is in the arena.

“Because that ultimately is what separates this sport from others and makes it such a great, live experience. It’s just competition in the purest form. It’s two guys with very little equipment, standing in the ring alone with each other. One of them is going to come out on top.

“It’s a combination of how we market the event and how we involve our viewers, and not least important, how we produce and televise it and how the media is actually consumed by our audience. For one, it starts with making people aware of this.”

On Showtime’s various media platforms:

“There are certain fights that I think I could bring to any non-boxing fan and have them automatically become a fan of the sport. Berto-Ortiz I is one of those.

“It starts with exposing this and marketing this to the broadest possible market. Whether it’s been CBS Sports, the CBS Sports Network, CBSSports.com, all of them have very willingly and enthusiastically said ‘This is an event that is deserving,’ and, ‘if you tell us that this is an event that is important and deserving, then we will help you market it and we will help you to expose it on our other platforms.

“Specifically, we had a great example with A Game Of Honor [feature length documentary look at the West Point and Naval Academy football programs.] For A Game Of  Honor, there was such huge visibility on CBS Sports and on CBS Network television, CBS Sports Network and CBSSports.com, that is translated into major media exposure in other places — The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal — places that wouldn’t normally cover these sports documentaries.

“It sort of snowballs. Once we can get the visibility through outlets such as CBS Network or CBSSports.com, then it sort of becomes a self-generating event in terms of other high level publicity.

“So I think that the first step is getting exposure and marketing for this event for the biggest audience possible. Part two of that is, once we have our audience, we need to make it an enjoyable, entertaining and compelling viewing experience. That is for the hardcore fan or the fan who just wants to learn more about the sport. Providing more content is always a good thing.”

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